Cruising on Google's Wave

Dec. 16, 2009, 9:27 a.m. | By Sophia Deng | 14 years, 6 months ago

Beginning in September, Google Wave captured the hearts and minds of computer users everywhere when Google issued 100,000 invitations for its new Wave software. Wave was a mystifying and awe-inspiring tool, anticipated to be the "next big thing."

The hype around Wave reached exponential heights due to the tool's invitation-only status. Around the world, people scurried to sign up multiple email accounts to receive the sought-after invitations. Jealousies flared when friends received Wave first. Emails were checked daily in anticipation of invites.

Without Google, the world would be a different place.  Photo courtesy of Caitlin Daitch.

I must admit - I was one of these fanatics. Freshman year at Blair, I quickly became a Google convert, abandoning my Yahoo email for GMail. Progressively, Google dominated my life. I came to use Google Docs for homework and projects, GChat to talk to friends online, Google Reader to browse through subscriptions and recently, I created a Google Voice Number to replace my home and cell phone numbers. My love of Google has even spread to the smallest details. I get excited on April Fools' Day when Google pulls its clever pranks; ecstatic when the Google banner changes because of holidays, anniversaries or birthdays. Naturally, when I found out about Google Wave, I was surfing the tide. Though I had no clue what it was, I was set on having it as soon as I could.

Google Wave is "an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration," according to Google. The main page is comprised of an inbox for "waves." Waves, which are similar to emails, can contain text, photo, videos, maps, even games. However what makes them unique is the fact that participants can edit waves in any way that they want and see these changes in real-time. Essentially Google Wave is bridging communication and group collaboration into a more effective method.

Like all new technology, Google Wave has its pros and cons. The initial rush of creating waves, especially after one understands how to add embedded functions, such as polls, links and videos, can be particularly fascinating. Yet, as of now, Wave has numerous problems. For instance, waves were often unsynced, which defeats the whole purpose of real-time editing and collaboration. Also, responding to waves, especially when there is a long chain of them becomes hard to do. Google will be able to improve upon these faults after more testing and feedback from users.

Google Wave will not overtake email anytime soon, as is often speculated. Converting users from email, an establishment dating back to the 1970s, to Wave, will be difficult, even for GMail users. The problem lies not only in the difficulty for people to transfer their data from one source to another. It also lies in Wave's lack of clear function. Email serves as electronic mail, but Wave has a muddier purpose. While one of my teachers has used Wave to communicate with students for classwork, my friends and I also have a wave dedicated to an ongoing sudoku competition. My first encounter with Wave left me wanting more. After a while, I was perplexed about Wave's aim.

Google Wave has a long journey to go before it turns mainstream. Despite the problems with Wave, Google must to be commended for its continual innovative efforts. The company has provided the world with new products that broaden society, making our lives more efficient and better. I may not be so frantic in cruising Wave as I was when I first got it. However I will be lost in the wave of Google products to come.

Sophia Deng. Sophia was the Managing Editor of SCO during the 2009-2010 school year. When not laughing or chilling to OWL CITY, Sophia can be found oil painting, playing volleyball, doing sudokus and sprinkling happy fairy dust over everyone. She loves folk/pop/electronica indie, Harry Potter, Burt's Bees … More »

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